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Michael LeMahieu
Clemson University (Clemson, SC 29634-0001)
Reconstructing Civil War Memory in American Literature after Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Completion of a book-length study on literary representations of the Civil War after Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

Post-54 examines the role of Civil War memory in American literature from the civil rights movement to the contemporary moment. Following the Brown decision, writers reconstructed genres of Civil War memory that had previously mystified military valor, mutual sacrifice, and sectional reconciliation in order to minimize the legacies of slavery and to underwrite racial inequality. Whether embodied in public monuments or depicted in feature films, Civil War memory circulates through cultural narratives whose generic form performs ideological functions: chivalric romance underwrites racial violence, pastoral elegy encodes agrarian ideology, and concepts of tragedy undo narratives of emancipation. Through works that inhabit and transfigure these generic forms, writers in the civil rights era as well as those in the contemporary moment advance counter-genres of Civil War memory that strategically debunk Lost Cause mythology and actively intervene in civil rights struggles.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
African American Studies; American Literature; American Studies


Research Programs

$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2019 – 7/31/2020